Food additives, which are added to food to maintain flavor or enhance taste, appearance, or other sensory properties, are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, a new study has shown.

According to the study published in the journal PLOS Medicine, nitrites and nitrates are chemical compounds used as food additives to increase shelf life, while researchers suggest a link between dietary exposure to nitrites and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

To investigate the relationship between dietary exposure to nitrites/nitrates type 2 diabetes risk, researchers accessed data collected from 1,04,168 participants in the prospective cohort NutriNet-Sante.

The researchers analyzed self-reported diet information with health outcomes using detailed nitrite/nitrate exposure derived from multiple databases and sources.

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The researchers discovered that participants in the NutriNet-Sante cohort who reported a higher intake of nitrites overall, and specifically from food additives and non-additive sources, had a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“This is the first large-scale cohort study to suggest a direct association between additives-originated nitrites and type-2 diabetes risk. It also corroborates previously suggested associations between total dietary nitrites and T2D risk,” said the study authors.

The cohort included a greater number of younger individuals, more often women, who exhibited healthier behavior.

“These results provide a new piece of evidence in the context of current discussions regarding the need for a reduction of nitrite additives’ use in processed meats by the food industry, and could support the need for better regulation of soil contamination by fertilizers,” the authors added.

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